Gaming powerhouse Zynga is best known for FarmVille, which made the company a household name a decade ago, though it had wild revenue swings along the way and sparked “cautionary tales” and “disaster timelines” across the industry about the “has-been’s” outright failure. Clearly, its fortunes have turned in the last few years, in spite of the closure of FarmVille itself, as this week, it purchased Echtra Games.
Echtra Games, of course, is well known around here because its first and only game, Torchlight III, was published by MMO company Perfect World Entertainment. The VentureBeat piece that broke the news doesn’t talk much about Torchlight III except to mention it as part of the company’s pedigree (since obviously that’s what Zynga wants, along with Max Schaefer himself). But our readers will know that Echtra originally announced the game in 2018 as an MMORPG called Torchlight Frontiers and then abruptly changed course in early 2020 to slim down the game into more of an optional-online offering with a buy-to-play model – the second time a Torchlight MMO had effectively been canceled.
TL3’s launch last year did not make a big splash with critics or gamers, and currently it’s averaging 233 players on Steam – fewer than the number still playing the nine-year-old Torchlight II. The Torchlight IP was acquired along with Runic Games by PWE years ago, so we presume that Torchlight III remains licensed to Perfect World regardless of where Echtra lands.
The studio will reportedly see no layoffs as part of the transition and will be working on a “new, yet to be announced RPG for cross-platform play.”